My Call to Arms
I hope I have made it abundantly clear that I’ve never served and that I have admiration for those that do. The more I work with Service Members and Veterans though, the more I can relate to certain experiences or emotions that they express. I have heard from many SMs and Vets that 9/11 was a pivotal moment in their military careers- it made some join, it made some re-enlist, and it made others (that thought they were finished with their military career) join again.
I feel that there is a certain pivotal moment going on for therapists. Unfortunately, it is taking more lives than those that were lost in 9/11. With 22 Veterans a day committing suicide and the inability of the VA to handle Veterans’ needs effectively, it makes me wonder if I am in the right place, career-wise.
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE what I do. I love having a private practice, I love being my own boss, I love the clients I have and working with them. I love my contract job, where I get to work directly with Service Members, Vets and their families “off the record”. Yet I wonder, could I be doing more at the VA?
I would like to think I don’t have unrealistic expectations or an overly optimistic viewpoint of what I could accomplish by working there. I have no superhero complex, trust me when I say that I am tired and a bit cynical in my current line of work and I’m pretty sure the VA would make that worse. I remember working for the Department of the Army. I remember the red tape, the stupid bureaucracy, and how many of our policies seemed to hurt the Soldiers more than it helped them. I know that those same limitations would be at the VA at the very least.
That being said, I wonder how many former Soldiers, Sailors and Marines (I know, I know, there is no such thing as a former Marine) thought the same thing when they thought about re-enlisting after they thought their military career had ended. They probably loved the freedoms the civilian world offered them. Yet they made that choice, that sacrifice.
It’s enough to keep me up at night. Right now, I deal with it knowing I’m doing the best I can with the clients I have and the opportunities that are afforded to me. I also write. I write to let people know about the horrors that these Service Members and Veterans face and how they aren’t getting the help they need. For now, that will have to be enough.